Storytelling as an Art
Anyone who thinks that telling a story and keeping an audience engaged is easy, is definitely incorrect.
Storytelling is an art. It takes practice.
A casual conversation can become an entertaining event if the narrator of the story tells it using his or her entire body and soul. Storytelling is the art of whole communication with one or more persons. It can be humorous, serious, didactic or just plain entertaining. If someone can engage another by telling his or her story to convey a special message, then it can be a memorable experience for all involved.
Five Storytelling Techniques that Work
There are several ways to tell a story. There are several stories to tell. Every person living is living a story. So, how can a story be told that will keep the interest of others?
- Remember, that if you are telling a story and you are going to be the story's narrator, you have to set the tone of the people, the mood and the place where the story takes place. In other words, set the stage for your audience. Give them a feel for all of the different characters and the unique personality of each character. Make eye contact, use gestures and set the tone of what your story's "stage" or setting looks like.
- It really is important that if you are going to partake in the art of storytelling in a casual setting, you should choose your story carefully. Choose a story you like or use a very personal, true story about something in your own life that might spark the interest of the other(s) around you. In other words, it is crucial that you enjoy the story you are telling or it will not be enjoyable to those around you hearing your story.
- Practice makes perfect. If you are going to tell a story to a crowd that you know, then you might have a little more respect. But, what if you are going to tell a story to a crowd in a casual setting that you do not know? The answer is: you better know your story and have it practiced it so you don't get lost in your own plot. Of course, if it is your personal life you are telling a story about, this might be a bit easier, but it needs to flow, so practice, practice, practice.
- Gestures and emphatic movement involve the audience and help the flow of your story and gives life to its characters. Use projection in your voice, and even change voices to match the personalities of the various characters in your story. This technique is very important. By using your entire body to tell the story, it gives the audience a chance to really "feel" the moments you are trying to express. Eye contact when necessary gives the story a "life" of its own and engages the audience.
- Use the method of foreshadowing to build the story up to its climax. Foreshadowing is a method that builds the plot and grabs the attention of those who are listening. When you use foreshadowing correctly in storytelling, you will draw and keep the interest of those around you. In fact, this method can even be used when you are just talking one-on-one to someone about a topic that might be a bit mundane. By "livening it up" you can give interest and spark even to dull subject matter.
It is much more interesting to tell someone that you have just met, "Hi, it is nice that you shop where I shop." The other party might look confused, but already you have his or her interest because of the type of question you posed, and it is about them. It is an icebreaker because the normal response would be something like, "Why do you think that?" And, you can respond with, "Because I bought the same beautiful shoes you have on at ...". You just used foreshadowing as an open ended icebreaker that involved the other party and it is a natural reaction to respond, sometimes even with a smile or laugh.
Other Tips to Consider
If you are going to perform in a play, you will learn your lines. You will learn where and when to move. You will learn how to improvise when necessary. You will learn to come in on "cue". You will observe the other actors in the play, as well as be aware of the "feel" of your audience.
It is the same when telling a story to a casual crowd or even in a more formal setting. You must know your lines and be mindful of the attention span and interests of your particular audience.
Remember, practice makes perfect. However, putting your heart and soul into a story, is best.